Two United States cities declare support for orcas’ legal rights
Only 73 Southern Resident Orcas left in the wild; Current legislations ineffective, say city residents
Two cities in United States’ state of Washington have taken steps to formally declare their support for legal rights for a group of endangered orcas. City of Port Townsend and City of Gig Harbor in the Pacific Northwest have signed proclamations to secure the inherent rights of the Southern Resident Orcas.
Port Townsend was the first city to sign the proclamation, while Gig Harbor’s Mayor Tracie Markley signed their proclamation December 12, 2022. It described the city’s support for action by local, state, federal and tribal governments that secure and effectuate the inherent rights of the Southern Resident Orcas.
Orcas are found across the world and are also known as ‘killer whales’.
Read more- Solar storms can hamper whales’ navigation, cause them to strand- Study
Despite federal legal protections for nearly two decades, the population of the orcas continues to decline and is critically endangered. Only 73 Southern Resident Orcas now exist in the wild, according to American daily The Washington Post.
The non-binding proclamations said–
The rights of the Southern Resident Orcas include, but are not limited to, the right to life, autonomy, culture, free and safe passage, adequate food supply from naturally occurring sources and freedom from conditions causing physical, emotional or mental harm, including a habitat degraded by noise, pollution and contamination
The Southern Resident Orcas are culturally, spiritually, and economically important to the people of Washington State and the world, according to a press statement by environmental group, Earth Law Center (ELC).
The proclamations are an effort to get other agencies and policymakers to support legal rights for orcas and to highlight how the current protections haven’t been sufficient, according to news website Yahoo! News.
‘Our Lhaq’temish term for killer whales is qwe’lhol’mechen, meaning ‘our relations under the waves’. They are members of our family, and we have a sacred obligation to help heal and protect them,’ stated Squil-le-he-le, Raynell Morris, Lhaq’temish matriarch and Lummi Nation tribal member.
More positive publicity will mean quicker help for the orcas, said Jeni Woock, Gig Harbor City council member.
‘Recognising the inherent rights of our Southern Resident Orcas is a first step towards reversing their decline,’ said Twila Slind with Legal Rights for the Salish Sea (LRSS), a local community group.
LRSS partnered with ELC in 2018 to lead a campaign to gain support for recognising the rights of the orcas at the local and Washington State level.
‘While well known environmental laws such as the Endangered Species Act (ESA) have certainly had some beneficial impacts, they have had their limitations,’ said Michelle Bender, ocean campaigns director at ELC.
For example, the ESA only kicks in once a species is threatened with extinction rather than seeking to maintain healthy populations before the point of listing.
Additionally, in the past few years, US agency National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration approved a request from the Navy for military exercises that could potentially harm, kill, or ‘take’ 51 Southern Residents per year, Bender added.
Read more- Global Eco Watch- Iceland will not hunt whales in 2020
‘Recognizing the Southern Residents’ legal rights means that we must consider their wellbeing and needs in addition to human interests in decision making, and that they will have a voice in a variety of forums, including courts,’ Elizabeth Dunne, ELC’s director of legal advocacy, said in the press statement.
One way that could be done is through human guardians acting on their behalf and in their best interests, Dunne added.
We are a voice to you; you have been a support to us. Together we build journalism that is independent, credible and fearless. You can further help us by making a donation. This will mean a lot for our ability to bring you news, perspectives and analysis from the ground so that we can make change together.
(News Source -Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by Times Of Nation staff and is published from a www.downtoearth.org.in feed.)
Read Also- Latest News | Current Affairs News | Today News | English News | World News Today
TimesofNation.com offer news and information like- English newspaper today | today English news | English news live | times of India | today news in English in India | breaking news in India today | India TV news today & Hindustan times.
You can Read on TimesofNation.com latest news today, breaking news headlines, Top news. Discover national and international news on economy, politics, defence, sports, world news & other relatively current affair’s news.